Glasgow - City of Sculpture
By Gary Nisbet
Carswell & Co.
(fl. c.1790-c.1856)

Family firm of wrights and builders founded in Kilmarnock by the brothers William Carswell (1764-1852) and James Carswell (1771-1856), they settled in Glasgow c.1790, establishing a workshop and yard on land which they later developed as George Street.

They built a number of warehouses and tenements in the Merchant City, Glasgow’s first New Town, including Ingram Court, Queen Court, Royal Exchange Place, ranges of dwellings in George Street (from Montrose Street eastwards) and other buildings in Richmond Street, High Street and London Street, amongst others.

Carswell & Co. were the first builders in Glasgow to use cast iron for pillars in their buildings and for their facades, as well as being the first to introduce running water into their interiors; a hugely successful innovation which led to the firm being granted a free supply of water to its own premises by the water company, in gratitude for the “excellent sanitary and social example [the firm] had shown”.

As well as dwellings and warehouses, the firm constructed a number of district police offices and other municipal buildings throughout the city.

William Carswell was Deacon of Wrights in 1800, and other members of his family were also members of the Royal Incorporation of Wrights.

The team at is indebted to Bob Carswell, of Toronto, the great, great, great grandson of James Carswell, for the above information.


  • GH (Obit: James Carswell) 25 February 1852;
  • Bob Carswell: e-mail, 6 December 2003;
  • Gomme & Walker (1968, rev. 1987);
  • Williamson et al. ;

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